Ready For The World
Two years after being cut from the Olympic team, Kevin Durant’s the leader of Team USA.
SLAM: Have you put much thought into the World Championships yet?
KD: I’m really waiting to see who else is going to be on the team. I’m really going to enjoy getting better with those guys, and that will help me next season and in the Olympics as well. And I want to see how they are, off the court. I’m the type of guy, if I watch something, I can learn from it—I pick things up quick. So guys like Lamar Odom, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, those guys have been in the League longer than I have and I can learn from them.
SLAM: Lamar said today he’s going to play.
KD: He’s going to play? I can learn from a guy like that, a guy with a body similar to me, I can definitely learn from that.
SLAM: What kind of adjustments will you make for international ball?
KD: Really just figuring out the rules, what you can and can’t do. I heard there’s goaltending, so that’s a big change of course. I’ll go to camp and try to learn the rules along the way and be the player they want me to be.
SLAM: You talked about working out and trying to put on some weight. How often are you working on that?
KD: Every day. I’m lifting weights, trying to eat good, trying to eat as much as I can. Just getting in the gym man, that’s what I’m about.
SLAM: Are you one of those guys who just can’t put on weight no matter what you try and do?
KD: Yeah. They used to call my mom “Tweety Bird” because she was real skinny. My grandad was real skinny. But my dad and my brother are fat. So I guess I take after my mom and my grandad. I’m trying everything. They say eat peanut butter and jelly. I did that. Eat potatoes. I do that. I can’t gain weight! But I’m getting stronger, I feel myself getting stronger. I’m just naturally skinny. I think when I get old I’ll get a belly on me, but other than that, stay skinny.
SLAM: During the Playoffs I noticed you were wearing an arm sleeve that was actually loose around your arm.
KD: A little baggy up top! I tried to pull it and pull it because it was baggy. I guess they don’t make ‘em my size. But I think that’s what makes me unique, man. A lot of people hit me on Twitter and say, You’re an inspiration to skinny guys. I’m skinny compared to my position guys. So a lot of people say it’s inspiration for them to continue improving. I’m me. I can’t go put 20 pounds on tomorrow.
SLAM: Do you feel that you’ve kind of arrived?
KD: Yeah. I’ve been through a lot so far in this League—losing, winning, being the main guy on the floor, having defenses focusing on me every game. It’s been like that for three years. That’s tough, but it’s a learning experience along the way. My rookie season I started at the shooting guard, and I was given the ball and I had to shoot 17, 18 times a game.
SLAM: Do you remember the first time you watched USA Basketball?
KD: I don’t remember what year it was, but it was with KG, Vince Carter and those guys, when Vince jumped over that guy. That’s the one I remember watching. You can see how much we’ve gotten better as a nation in the Olympics.
SLAM: When did you know you wanted to play for USA Basketball?
KD: Hearing about the Dream Team and reading about the Dream Team, I wanted to be a part of something like that, because I’ve seen how much players sacrifice to be on teams like that, how they minimize their roles, how they play within the team. Egos were out the door, and that’s something I really enjoyed seeing from some of the top guys in the League, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had a chance to make the team in ’08, and I came a little short and was upset with myself, and that gave me a little drive to push myself and improve my game.
SLAM: Some of the guys who’ve played for USA Basketball recently said they might take this summer off.
KD: Of course, it goes without saying they want to play but can’t make, say, the mini-camp or whatever you may have. But you’ve still got to take into consideration they’ve been there and if they say they want to come to the World Championships, they have to come. I’m just looking forward to playing with the best players in the world who play in the NBA. So if a guy like Carmelo can’t make the mini-camp but wants to play in the World Championships, you can’t turn that down.
SLAM: You’re usually the main option on the teams you’ve played on. Are you cool with taking a lesser role on the US team?
KD: I’m fine with that. Really, I can’t wait to play. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do. I just want to win. I haven’t really won anything since I’ve been in the League, and this could be my first major championship if we do win. I just enjoy getting better with the other guys in the League, and I can’t wait for the opportunity.
SLAM: Do you think you being involved with USA Basketball will bring some exposure to Oklahoma City and the Thunder?
KD: Even with the Twitter and Facebook, people still don’t know who Oklahoma City is. So I just try to do my best to show them who we are. But the other part there is how we perform on the court. I’m sure next year we’ll be on TNT more, ESPN, whatever. If we continue to get better as a group, people will see who we are. I think nowadays if you win that makes up for everything, because people like to see winning teams. Hopefully more and more people know who we are.
SLAM: If there was Twitter when you were growing up, who would you have followed?
KD: Just about everybody who was in the League who was on Twitter, no matter who it was. From Scot Pollard to Michael Jordan, I’d follow anybody, because I really like to see what guys go through as far as off the court or how they handle things.